Thursday, March 8, 2012

Four Ways of Looking at Lana Del Rey


What does an online visual analysis look like? Even a rudimentary one? What are the basic steps for each?

Below are four sample presentations
  • These were created purely as technology demonstrations for an undergraduate gender studies course. 
  • A convenient topic was: a visual analysis of recent pop singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey.
  • The analyses follow no particular method and represent no general theory: 
    • they just show some things that can be done to analyze visual materials on different platforms.
    • If each varies in quality--use of the medium, complexity--they can also serve as objects of critique, an opportunity to discuss evaluation criteria.
  • The actual url's have been passed through a link-shortener with customized url's to make them easier to share.

1. Publish images and text slides as an online photo set or 'web album.'
How I Did It.
  • I searched for images using images.google.com.
  • When a surprising image came up--like '20's "It Girl" Clara Bow's image in results for "Lana Del Rey"--I searched the new topic to find more relevant images.
  • I shuttled back and forth between the images and more searches.
  • I saved the photos locally.
  • I drafted some notes and used them to sequence the images in Picasa photo organizing & editing software.
  • I published the resulting album to the web from within Picasa.

2. An online photo set like those in Picasaweb can also be pulled into Cooliris Express. 
  • This link connects to the same images, but in this browser-based application, the images become an interactive gallery wall.

3. Use iMovie to edit images of video and add commentary.

How I Did It.
  • I downloaded a music video that I found intriguing from Youtube using keepvid.com.
  • I brought that video file into iMovie.
  • I selected one short 45-second clip that used a lot of motifs I wanted to point towards.
  • I added titles over the images to highlight certain meanings and categories the video consistently draws on.
  • I rendered the video and published it to Youtube.
Downsides.
  • Clearly, just a few descriptions on the screen is not the same as an analysis.
  • Given that the images move quickly, still frames might be better.
  • Further, having the keywords come and go with the images does not solidify the running themes for the viewer. 

4. Use online presentation software--such as Google Docs.
  • By selecting related visual images and juxtaposing them with an analytical quote, you can make a very small network of themes.
  • In this case, I took the main topics from the quotes and made them into 'tags'--just a word that floats near the image and highlights some aspect of it.
    • Clearly, this is not the richest, most sophisticated way to do this.
    • A next step would involve: editing the images to highlight the elements, or constructing a richer dynamic between words and images.
The workflow is:
  • Create an empty presentation in Google Docs.
  • Find images and drag the image from an open browser window directly into the Google Docs presentation.
  • Add text quotes and 'tags.'
  • Publish by using the "Share." Button.

This does not exhaust the options. But it shows some of the possibilities.

--Edward R. O'Neill 

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